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AP Wins First Ever Safeconcerts Award for Excellence
Leeds Festival 2008 marked AP Security's tenth year of providing crowd safety at the event. As the festival has grown, so AP's role has developed alongside it, as has a solid relationship with promoter, Festival Republic. A lot of hard work has been put in along the way and this has paid dividends in many ways, a fact that has been recognised by Safeconcerts' in giving AP its first ever Award for Excellence.
"We are really delighted to have finally seen a security firm in action that we can highly recommend," says Deborah Rees of Safeconcerts. "We always watch the security at work wherever we go and certainly don't tell them. I think it's fair to say that we are often disappointed in the behaviour we have witnessed - of all the festivals we have been to this year we most certainly didn't expect to find an oasis of quality work at Leeds.
"I think not seeing the crowd as the enemy, criminals or as people that they could take out their aggression on was the major thing that set them apart from other security teams. My partner saw one of the pit team get quite a boot in the face (by accident - just a kid coming over the barrier) when he was working the pit and the guy must have been hurt but he never reacted and he never took it out on the crowd.
"In our experience this is really rare and something we don't ever underestimate. We think it takes highly trained and skilled individuals to be able to deal with a crowd like this and not react badly to constant provocation. If other AP teams work to this standard then we feel confident that festival goers are in safe hands"
AP knows a good relationship with the crowd at any event is extremely important. It attributes achieving this to its rigorous staff training, something it takes extremely seriously, with each and every employee attending a pit training course held during non-show days at Brixton Academy, one of the many venues at which AP is responsible for crowd safety.
"Attending the course doesn't guarantee work in the pit," says AP's general manager, Andy Stevens. "But you definitely can't work there unless you've done it."
The course, which has been developed and re-developed over the years, comprises six hours of hands-on training spread over two days, looking at the roots of pit work, the roots of the pit itself, barrier formation and the history of live music, right through to practical hands on aspects such as lifting people out of crowd, dealing with crowd surfers and the management of a pit area. It also extends to pass checking and working with other agencies on a festival site such as medics, the promoter and press.
"All these people have a role to play and it's important that we interact with them in the correct manner," continues Stevens. "But the most important people for us are the ones directly in front of the barrier.
"The two most important messages we try to get across in the training are that this is an incredibly serious business - people's lives depend on our competency - and to remember these kids are only dancing. So many people see surfing as an aggressive action. It is only a dance, but one that relies on being caught by us at the end and then being treated with dignity."
"This is the only team we have seen in action that have not reacted badly to crowd behaviour, nor did they adopt the usual standard we normally see where security are unapproachable, surly and unpleasant in attitude," observes Rees of AP at Leeds.
"Most security firms underestimate the importance of good customer skills at these events. Our message is to keep up the good work. AP clearly has the edge and other security teams could learn a lot from their example, we know that quality matters and AP have proved that it can be done, and done well."
"This award is for everyone at AP and is as much for those members of staff who did not work at Leeds as those who did," concludes Stevens. "It's the culmination of so much hard work by a lot of people and we are extremely proud to accept such a fantastic accolade."
In picture: AP Security's Andy Stevens.
17th September 2008
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